Tackling the problem of the accidental women in tech
When I was at school I don’t ever remember putting my hand up at one of the regular careers evenings and saying: “I want to work in technology.”
By way of background, I went to an all-girls school and technology wasn’t really on the agenda. Hardly surprising then that so few women go into tech.
Fast forward to 2017 and I’m working at BusinessCloud, the UK’s newest tech magazine. Even at school I knew I wanted to be a writer but what I hadn’t realised was that I could write about tech.
I am the accidental woman in tech – and that’s the problem.
Last year I produced BusinessCloud’s 100 Female Role Models of Tech list and what struck me was how many of those people fell into the sector.
This isn’t true for everyone of course – there are the Kate Russells, the Anne-Marie Imafidons and the Dame Stephanie Shirleys, who always seemed bound for great things in the field – but many of the women currently doing amazing things for the industry didn’t necessarily set out to be there.
This is disappointing for a wealth of reasons. Women are less likely than men to seek out a career in STEM, and the industry is undeniably unbalanced.
Training organisation QA has even estimated that around half of women in tech were actively discouraged from joining the industry.
That’s a real shame because there are no physical restrictions preventing women entering the tech sector. One prominent woman I spoke to said tech actually levels the playing field for women in industries that have traditionally been male dominated.
We now need to make tech relatable and approachable for everyone, no matter what their interests. There’s no single solution but clearly schools, parents, media and companies themselves have a part to play, as do women.
What I’ve realised is that I’ve inadvertently become a female role model of tech myself. The title sits uncomfortably with me because, like so many women, I’m not used to talking myself up.
Being a role model implies that I’m part of a minority group and success for me will be when there’s no need for women quotas or phrases like ‘role model’.
My path into tech is more down to accident than design but it’s one that I would recommend to other people – male and female.
BELOW: Flick through the December edition of BusinessCloud's interactive digital magazine